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Fact & Fiction

Artist: Greg Heath

Date of Release: 01/04/2009

Catalogue no: 1642

Label: Self Produced

Price: £10

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Track Listing

No

 

Title

Duration

1

listen

No Time to Reason

6.00

2

listen

Webb

9.42

3

 

The Comfort Zone

7.43

4

 

Song for Andy Brown

11.40

5

 

Fact & Fiction

11.26

 

 

 

 

Appearances by

John Donaldson

Original and progressive modern jazz in the classic jazz quartet format. Featuring: Greg Heath - Tenor Sax, John Donaldson - Piano, Nick Kacal - Bass and Laurence Lowe - Drums.

 

Reviews

 

23/08/2009 Graham Reid - elsewhere.co.nz

Saxophonist Greg Heath has been in London for two decades now, so you’d have to have a long memory to recall him alongside Rick Bryant in the early 80s as a member of The Neighbours – a band with a revolving door membership anyway.

In ‘84 Heath picked up a grant to study at the New South Wales Conservatorium (where another expat jazz musician Mike Nock has had a long teaching residency), was tutored there by trumpeter James Morrison and woodwind player Don Burrows, then took off for London.

No one would say he’d had it easy over there making his way as a musician (does anyone from the Antipodes?) but someone who is the co-founder and musical director of a successful cabaret evening called The Flash Monkey Presents Burlesque Bazaar (and The Flash Monkey Presents Cabaret Casbah) is obviously having some kinda fun.

Heath has a serious side too of course, as you’d expect from someone who cites John Coltrane, Mike Nock and Joe Henderson as the first three influences on his My Space page.

The Coltrane connection is apparent from the incendiary yet melodic kick-off track on his debut album Fact & Fiction with his excellent quartet of pianist John Donaldson, drummer Lawrence Lowe and bassist Nick Kacal.

No Time to Reason, one of five originals on the album, makes an immediate statement of intent: his saxophone coils and springs, dives hard and headlong into the tune, bops across the top of the energetic rhythm section and finds spiralling rushes of notes which seem to pour out of him.

As an opening track on a debut album it is not only an attention-getter but an impressive piece of playing and composition which also allows pianist Donaldson (who studied with Henderson in the early 80s, recently picked up a British Jazz Award and helms his own trio independent of this group) a chance to shine.

Elsewhere on the album Heath also pulls back for some beautifully contemplative work, notably on his midnight-blue tribute to the late Auckland bassist Andy Brown which eases out to a leisurely and emotional 11 minutes. It is a gorgeous piece and sits at the far end of the spectrum from that fiery opener.

That Heath has such an emotional and technical range comes as no surprise when you consider the breadth of his work in London. He’s played alongside legendary British guitarists Jim Mullen (who co-founded the acclaimed Morrissey-Mullen jazz-funk band with saxophonist Dick Morrissey in the 80s) and John Etheridge in the jazz world, and has toured with or been on sessions for Van Morrison, James Hunter, Stereo MCs, Terence Trent D‘Arby (remember him?), Joan Armatrading and others. He’s also toured and recorded in the Middle East with Iraqi-born guitarist Ilham al Madfai.

Typical Kiwi in London, he can turn his hand to anything, right?

Heath does get back to New Zealand occasionally – nothing on the horizon right now – but my feeling is that this impressive album will keep him working in London for a long time to come.

He is squarely in the bop idiom with a confidence that is palpable on the title track to this debut which is grounded in classic 60s territory. In the jazz world this is the kind of music that never falls from favour or is at the whim of fashion.

It is also a difficult idiom as it demands an emotional intelligence as much as technical facility, and the evidence on Fact & Fiction is that Heath – to be counted among the best in that growing list of our jazz exports – has that in abundance.

 

01/06/2009 DUNCAN HEINING Jazz UK

2009 Debut Release Fact & Fiction comes recommended by Jazz UK as one to buy with confidence “…there’s a strong Coltrane-circa-1961 influence here and as well as Heath’s fire-starting tenor the CD captures pianist John Donaldson at his most eloquent” DUNCAN HEINING – Jazz UK

 

09/08/0009 Bruce Lindsay - allaboutjazz.com

Tenor saxophonist Greg Heath originates from New Zealand, but has been based in the United Kingdom since 1989, working with a diverse array of artists including Van Morrison, Marianne Faithful and Jimmy Ruffin. Fact & Fiction finds Heath in more straight-ahead jazz territory, with strong early-'60s influences and a talented quartet of musicians. Indeed, the quartet's line up of Heath with John Donaldson on piano, Nick Kacal on double-bass and Lawrence Lowe on drums is reflective of those influences and fits well with Heath's compositional style.

The CD, co-produced by Heath and Kacal, features five tunes, all written by Heath. Unsurprisingly, the tenor is the preeminent instrument on the album, but the compositions also give ample opportunity for the other musicians to stretch out. The opening "No Time to Reason" is particularly evocative of early-'60s quartet playing; an up-tempo tune driven by Lowe's percussion and featuring some impressive tenor work and a beautifully crisp piano solo from Donaldson. By contrast, "Webb" takes a smoother approach, reminiscent of 1970s cop show themes, while "The Comfort Zone" has a slightly harder edge to it, illustrated by Donaldson's excellent solo, which sees him playing more aggressively than he does on the other tunes. Kacal's bass playing is impressive, his solos on "Webb" and "The Comfort Zone" both skillful and involving; but for most of the album the bass seems to be too far back in the mix to allow it the emphasis it deserves: an unusual situation given that Kacal co-produced the session.

Fact & Fiction doesn't break any boundaries, nor does it try to. It's an enjoyable collection of tunes played by a talented quartet, and it also shows Heath's potential as a leader and composer. Hopefully there will be more to come: Heath can be proud of this release, but next time a few more risks might be in order.

 

01/08/0009 SELWYN HARRIS - Jazzwise

Born in New Zealand, this tough tenor saxophonist has been resident in the UK since 1989. Although he's just one more saxophonist on the endless conveyor belt of post-Coltrane modernists, Heath has adrive and sonic intensity that encourages further listening. He's partnered by veteran pianist John Donaldson, McCoy to Heath's Trane, a consumamate sideman who can swing with the best of them. But the Coltrane edginess is offset by a more audience-friendly side to Heath's playing on this not overly long set of originals, favouring the softer focus of R&B jazz sax. Having studied in Sydney in the 1980s under the tutelage of James Morrison and Don Burrows, Heath came here to work midway through the decade finding a career as a session musician working with artists such as Van Morrison, Joan Armatrading, Marianne Faithfull And Omar. While The Jazz Here is idiomatically-slavish and hardly in the moment, It's still undeniably well executed and listenable.

 

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